Rams coach Sean McVay surprised, saddened by news about mentor Jon Gruden

Raiders coach Jon Gruden addresses the media at a news conference.
Jon Gruden had to resign as Las Vegas Raiders head coach.
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Jon Gruden gave Rams coach Sean McVay his first job in the NFL. He mentored McVay, and the coaches have remained close.

But McVay said Wednesday he was surprised and saddened by the content of emails discovered during an investigation of the Washington Football Team that led to Gruden’s resignation as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

The email exchanges with former Washington executive Bruce Allen included racial, homophobic and misogynistic comments by Gruden, according to reports by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

“I have not seen that side of him,” McVay said, “and I was surprised by it.”


McVay, preparing his team for a road game Sunday against the New York Giants, clearly anticipated he would be asked about Gruden.

He opened his news conference with an attempt to get in front of the questions.

A federal court filing four months ago revealed new e-mail correspondence of former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen that extended beyond Jon Gruden.

Oct. 13, 2021

“It’s really an unfortunate situation that’s gone on with the Raiders and coach Gruden,” McVay said. “I hated that so many people have been negatively affected by this. Thoughts and prayers are with all those people that are.

“And really just want to leave it at that and we’re focused on the Giants.”

But McVay spent the majority of his near 12-minute session fielding questions about the situation.


Rams head coach Sean McVay makes a point from the sidelines.
Jon Gruden gave Rams head coach Sean McVay his first job in the NFL.
(Zach Bolinger / Associated Press)

The relationship between McVay’s and Gruden’s families dates to 1969 when McVay’s grandfather, John, hired Gruden’s father, Jim, as an assistant coach at the University of Dayton.

In 2008, Jon Gruden hired McVay to be part of his Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff. Gruden was fired after that season, and he worked as an analyst on “Monday Night Football” from 2009 to 2017.

McVay joined Washington’s staff in 2010, and from 2014 to 2016 was an assistant under Gruden’s brother, Jay.

When the Raiders hired Gruden in January 2018, McVay said he looked forward to competing against him.

“If you get a chance to coach against one of your mentors and a guy that taught you almost kind of the foundation of what you know about this game, I think it would be a fun, humbling opportunity,” McVay had said.

The NFL came across Jon Gruden emails that contained racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments. How much more is there? What else will be revealed?

Oct. 12, 2021

On Wednesday, McVay said he had not had contact with Gruden in the aftermath of the emails being reported, and was not contacted by the NFL as part of the investigation of the Washington Football Team.

McVay said he was “sad” about the emails. He was asked to clarify whether he was sad about the content or sad for Gruden.

“All of the above,” McVay said. “I just think it’s a really unfortunate circumstance. So, I’m sad for the many people that have been negatively affected. Anybody that was offended by this. There’s a lot of families. There’s a lot of things that go into this, and there’s a lot of people that have been affected. And that’s what I’m sad about.

“It’s kind of a sad commentary all around. It’s an unfortunate thing that we’re even talking about it right now.”

McVay’s uncle, Jim McVay, president and chief executive officer of the Outback Bowl, reportedly was among those on email chains with Gruden.

“I saw that my uncle was on some of those chains, but I can’t speak on behalf of some of the content — but saddened is an appropriate word,” McVay said.

Gruden is the epitome of how the game is played in a multibillion-dollar industry in which the leaders don’t expect anyone to hold them accountable.

Oct. 12, 2021

The Rams have taken steps to ensure a good workplace environment, according to McVay.

“I’d like to think that there’s an atmosphere and environment here that’s about helping people reach their highest potential, having empathy, caring about people,” he said, “and that’s what I think we display, and I think that’s what the people that have been in this building would say and that’s really important to me.”


Defensive lineman Aaron Donald (knee) was held out of practice because of swelling that resulted from a collision with the knee of another player during a victory over the Seattle Seahawks last Thursday, a team spokesperson said. Kicker Matt Gay (ankle) and running back Jake Funk (hamstring) also did not practice. All are expected to play Sunday, the spokesperson said.